W&N pre-empts debut in six-figure deal

Weidenfeld & Nicolson has acquired a debut novel in a "major" six-figure pre-empt deal, with the agent likening it to The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

W&N fiction publishing director Kirsty Dunseath bought UK and Commonwealth rights to The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver through Charlotte Robertson at Aitken Alexander. Dunseath said publication is currently planned for spring 2013.

The book tells the story of Mika, a Jewish boy who inherits a coat from his grandfather and discovers a puppet in one of its pockets. He becomes a puppeteer in the Warsaw ghetto, but is then forced to entertain German troops. It is also the story of Max, a German soldier stationed in Warsaw, and his experiences both in Poland and in Siberia's Gulag.

Dunseath, who completed the deal with Robertson yesterday evening, said: "It really has that beguiling quality to it that good storytelling has, it just entirely captures you. I loved books like The Book Thief, it was one I would have loved to publish, and it has that quality to it, it can appeal to almost all ages. I haven't had so many people adore a book for such a long time, and the books that have been really massive lately have all had that appeal."

Robertson added Dutch rights have already been sold with auctions underway in other territories.